Young Castro: The Making of a Revolutionary

S. & S. Jun. 2019. 512p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781476732473. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781476732497. BIOG
With this latest work, Hansen (senior lecturer, David Rockefeller Ctr. for Latin American Studies, Harvard Univ.; Guantánamo: An American History) utilizes archives in Havana, Cuba, along with numerous interviews of contemporaries of Fidel Castro (1926–2016) to create a remarkable biography of a leader who changed Cuba and the world. The account captures Castro’s early years and the pivotal moments of the Cuban Revolution, 1953–59, with Castro emerging as a thoughtful, at times shy, romantic who shunned elitism and favored populism. Hansen implores readers to ignore the “barbudo” Castro and explore the young idealist who rejected communism and admired America’s New Deal. He further offers new insights and a synthesis of other books on his subject, including Patrick Symmes’s The Boys from Dolores. Hansen’s narrative is a pleasure to read, as he brings a relatively unknown Castro to life without defending or apologizing.
VERDICT An important, thoroughly researched and documented recent work on Cuban history that belongs in all collections.

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